Bucs make late run to drop Chants from first-place tie

ChantsDespite a career-high tying 25 points by Warren Gillis, Coastal Carolina was unable to overcome six second-half 3-pointers by Charleston Southern as the Buccaneers erased a halftime deficit on its way to defeating Coastal Carolina 83-72 in Big South basketball action Wednesday night.

The game featured 20 lead changes and 11 ties before Charleston Southern went on a game-clinching 7-0 run with 7:43 to play.

The Buccaneers (15-9, 9-4 Big South) were paced by Saah Nimley’s 24 points, including 20 in the second half. Nimley, who entered the contest as the Big South’s leading scorer, accounted for 15 of his points via 3-pointers. Joining Nimley in double-figures were Will Saunders (18), Aaron Wheeler’s (15) and Cedrick Bowen (11).

Coastal (17-8, 8-5 Big South) was led by Gillis’ game-high 25 points. The senior knocked down 9-of-17 from the field and 6-of-8 at the free-throw line. Elijah Wilson chipped in 13 points, while Shivaughn Wiggins and Badou Diagne scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Coastal expanded its one-point halftime lead to three points on three occasions in the second half with the final time coming on a Diagne trey at the 10:22 mark, which gave CCU a 55-52 lead. However each time the Chants pulled ahead by three, Charleston Southern’s Nimley answered on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer.

Nimley’s game-tying three with 10:02 to play sparked a 16-3 Buccaneer scoring streak that left the home team up 68-58 with 6:17 to play. Charleston Southern shot a perfect 6-of-6 during the game-clinching run.

Coastal cut the lead to eight points on a pair of Gillis free throws with 5:39 to play, but would get no closer than nine the rest of the way as Charleston Southern outscored the Chants 15-14 over the final five minutes en route to the 83-72 victory.

Coastal trailed Charleston Southern 19-18 after 12 minutes of play, but Josh Cameron forced a loose ball near mid-court and ended the play with a fast break layup off a Gillis assist, giving the Chants a one-point lead. CSU’s Saunders and Coastal’s Gillis exchanged 3-pointers consecutive possessions before the Bucs pulled ahead by three on layups by Wheeler and Arlon Harper after defensive stands. Gillis halted the Bucs before they could gain momentum with a floater in the lane, cutting Coastal’s deficit to 26-25 with 4:48 to go in the opening half.

Charleston Southern scored six of the game’s next eight points to take a 32-17 lead with 1:23 to play before the intermission. However, the Chants responded with a Marcus Freeman bucket in the paint and a Wilson put back following a pair of missed shots. CSU’s Bowen was whistled for a technical foul after the Wilson bucket, sending Gillis – the nation’s 11th-best free-throw shooter – to the line. Gillis converted both opportunities and the Chants made a stop on the defensive end to take a 33-32 lead into halftime.

Coastal closed the game shooting 40.7 percent (24-of-59), while CSU shot an even 50 percent (28-of-56), including 64.0 percent in the second half.

The Chanticleers welcome rival Liberty to The HTC Center on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game, which is the second of a doubleheader with the women’s team taking on Longwood at 1:00 p.m., will be carried live on ESPN3.

Photo Courtesy of CCU Athletics

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